One of the first things I did when I got here was to check the local alt-weekly for their 'best-of' restaurants, which are usually a reliable guide to fine dining wherever you are. It should have been a bad sign right off the bat that it took several weeks to ascertain that San Antonio actually has an alt-weekly, but once I did, it so happened that I was just in time for their food issue. Reading the intro material, though, I was mildly horrified to discover that there was a raging debate – not only between readers and editors, but within the editorial staff itself – over whether or not to include chain restaurants in the best-of ratings. In the end, the editors explained, they decided that chain joints would be included, if for no other reason than excluding them would leave the paper with not enough restaurants to write about. Think about that for a minute, and remember: 1.6 million people in this town.
(Also, the restaurant – independently owned, not a chain – they picked as their cover feature, a barbeque joint called the Pig Stand, closed down a week after the issue came out due to tax issues.)
Other adventurers in cuisine:
- There is one (1) vegetarian restaurant in all of San Antonio. Which, you know, not that big a deal for me, as I won't eat anything that didn't cost a life, but still: the eighth-largest city in the country, and there's one vegetarian restaurant? Madness.
- One of the few good downtown dining options was a place called Café Sirius, which, up until a few weeks ago when they took a summer break, served delicious tacos, including one of the better brisket tacos I've ever had. When they came back from break, apparently the owners decided that tacos were just too darn exotic for this town, and they now feature nothing but awful burgers and crappy grilled sandwiches.
- I have already complained extensively about the lack of delivery options available, but I would also like to complain about the lack of takeout options available. And for goodness' sake, in Ireland there's a Chinese takeaway joint on every street corner. Here? Jack O'Shittigan.
- Since the whole city is plagued with chain restaurants, I figured I would at least try some chains that are unfamiliar to me. So I headed to a nearby representative of Austin-based Delaware Subs, thinking it might be an edible alternative to Subway. The place had all its windows blacked out with paint, and a big-screen TV was blaring some foreign-language broadcast, and no one was behind the counter. Every molecule of the place screamed "the murder of human beings is planned, if not actually carried out, here". So, I can't tell you whether Delaware Subs are any good or not.
- One thing S.A. has in abundance is really good liquor stores. This is probably due to the total lack of really good anything else.